BY Ryan Ledendecker
Republished below in full unedited for informational, educational, & research purposes.
The concerns regarding the East Palestine, Ohio, Norfolk Southern train derailment, which until recently was barely even acknowledged by the U.S. government, are growing by the hour. Many in the state and federal government have written the disaster off as not that big of a deal.
However, many residents in the area are scared out of their minds of the after-effects of the derailment, which ultimately resulted in hazardous chemicals seemingly spewing everywhere. After you watch what Republican Ohio Sen. J.D. Vance tweeted while standing in a creekbed near the derailment site, you’ll understand why residents are frightened.
All it took for the senator to go viral on Thursday afternoon was a stick and a camera.
“Visited a local creek in East Palestine today. These waterways are still very polluted. It’s time for Norfolk Southern to finish the cleanup. Check this video out:” Vance tweeted.
“Hey guys, so I’m here at Leslie Run, and there are dead worms and dead fish all throughout this water. Something I just discovered is that if you scrape the creekbed, it’s like chemical is coming out of the ground,” Vance said before demonstrating what he discovered.
“This is disgusting,” Vance continued. “And the fact that we have not cleaned up the train crash, the fact that these chemicals are still seeping in the ground is an insult to people who live in East Palestine. Do not forget these people; we’ve got to keep applying pressure; that’s how we’re going to fix this problem. Thank you.”
One little scrape in that particular spot where the senator stood in the video, which looked undisturbed otherwise, and a sheen of rainbow colors immediately appeared across the surface of the water. So, either Vance struck oil, or that creek is chock-full of whatever nastiness came from the hazmat explosion at the train derailment site.
To be fair, action to mitigate the damage to local water supplies is well underway. In the video, Vance is seen standing in front of multiple containment booms, which help to filter out chemicals. It’s not accurate to say that nothing is being done about the surrounding environment, and it’s certainly not the kind of clean-up effort that will happen overnight.
Ohio EPA and state officials have done several different things to try to contain pollution from the chemical spill. Crews have put oil containment booms in waterways and aerated contaminated soil and water.
Crews have excavated and removed nearly 500 cubic yards of “vinyl chloride-impacted material” including soil, according to Kurt Kollar, the on-scene coordinator for the Ohio EPA’s Office of Emergency Response. The EPA is also blocking off ditches around the contaminated dirt so that it doesn’t contaminate more water.
Tiffany Kavalec, the chief of the Division of Surface Water at Ohio EPA, reported that testing in Leslie Run shortly after the derailment revealed that “Data from February 4, the day after the train derailment, downgradient on Leslie Run and Little Beaver Creek showed very low detection levels of contaminants and mostly from fire residual chemicals. Data from February 10 more recently showed low levels of only two contaminants: butyl acrylate and ethylhexyl acrylate. Both are volatile, organic chemicals.”
So, are the chemical sheens simply firefighting chemicals hanging around from last week? Or is it something worse? Hopefully, in the coming days, we’ll find out more as further testing is conducted.
But people are justifiably uneasy about it all, especially when it’s viewed up close. On Twitter, many weighed in on Vance’s alarming video. One of the most significant concerns is that the water supply for East Palestine could be compromised, even though authorities insist that everything is totally fine right now.
“To those saying it’s all under control in Ohio (not many, I know) watch as @JDVance1 scrapes a creek bottom with a stick, instant chemical rainbow appears. This is people’s water supply we’re talking about and chemicals have been found hundreds of miles away,” DC Draino tweeted.
Another Twitter user expressed the harsh reality that this could be a long-term issue.
“Unfortunately I fear that it will take years to fully find out the damage these chemicals did to the community,” the Twitter user wrote.
As PJ Media’s managing editor Paula Bolyard noted Tuesday of some of the takeaways of Republican Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine’s press conference on the disaster:
Bruce Vanderhoff, the director of the Ohio Department of Health, said the main concern at this point is drinking water, in particular, for those who have private wells. He urged both those with private wells and those on municipal water to use bottled water until more tests can be conducted. He also implored those with private wells to call the hotline so they can have their water tested at no cost. Bottled water is also being provided to residents. Vanderhoff said that women who are pregnant or breastfeeding could be especially vulnerable, in addition to infants on formula that is mixed with water.
“Make no mistake: This is still a very dangerous situation, and there are a lot of unknowns. Residents rightly fear there could be long-term health ramifications from being exposed to deadly chemicals. Only time will tell if officials on the ground have done enough to mitigate the risks,” Bolyard, an Ohio native, added.
During his visit to East Palestine on Thursday, Vance had a simple message for the Biden administration.
“I haven’t spoken to President Biden. My message to him is pretty simple. One, the Department of Transportation, your Department of Transportation, has things they can do. Stop blaming Donald Trump, a guy who hasn’t been president for three years, and use the powers of the federal government to do the things necessary to help the people in this community,” Vance said, according to Fox News.
The government’s overall tepid response to what feels like a mini-Chernobyl is beyond disturbing and only raises additional questions. The possible health risks and cancer clusters from potentially contaminated water supplies could take years — maybe more — to fully realize.
As PJ Media’s Matt Margolis reported Thursday, DeWine was notified that the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has refused to provide assistance at this time.
“The DeWine Administration has been in daily contact with FEMA to discuss the need for federal support, however, FEMA continues to tell Governor DeWine that Ohio is not eligible for assistance at this time,” DeWine said in a statement. “Governor DeWine will continue working with FEMA to determine what assistance can be provided.”
It’s easy to see why people are so scared, especially when they feel they’ve been practically abandoned.